After a crazy Super Wild Card Weekend, the Divisional Round will get underway on Saturday afternoon. Last week I was six for six on my picks. I did miss on the scores, badly on a couple, but got all the winners correct. So let’s preview the four matchups this weekend and see who will advance to Championship Weekend.
Cincinnati Bengals (11-7) at Tennessee Titans (12-5)
Last week, the Bengals ended 31 years of frustration when they defeated the Las Vegas Raiders 26-19 for their first playoff victory since 1991. Joe Burrow played well, and the defense made a stand at the end of the game to send them to the Divisional Round. He passed for 244 yards and two touchdowns. They will now get ready to face the Tennessee Titans, the top seed in the AFC.
The Titans had the bye week as the top seed in the conference and will have Derrick Henry back this weekend. He has been out since Week Nine after he fractured his foot against the Indianapolis Colts the week before. Henry rushed for 937 yards and ten touchdowns in eight games. In his absence, D’Onta Foreman and Dontrell Hilliard filled in admirably. Ryan Tannehill had a good season as he passed for 3734 yards and 21 touchdowns while also rushing for 270 yards and seven touchdowns.
This game could be the best of the weekend. It will come down to whether the Bengals can stop the Titan’s running game or can the Titans stop the Bengal’s passing attack. Tennessee finished fifth in the NFL in rushing with 141.4 yards per game, while the Bengals finished 18th in total defense but were fifth in rushing defense, allowing 102.5 yards per game. The Cincinnati offense finished seventh in passing offense with 259 yards per game. I think the Bengals will pass it, but ultimately the Titans are playing at home, and they have Henry back.
Game Prediction: Titans 28 Bengals 20
San Francisco 49ers (11-7) at Green Bay Packers (13-4)
The 49ers went to Jerry World and took it to the Dallas Cowboys, winning 23-17 to advance to the Divisional round. They will now head to Lambeau Field to take on the Packers, the NFC’s top seed for the second consecutive season. Aaron Rodgers figures to win his second consecutive MVP award after throwing for 4115 yards and 37 touchdowns. The Packers are well-rested and playing at home, while the 49ers will be playing their third straight road game.
San Francisco wanted to run the ball, and last week against the Cowboys, that is what they did. The 49ers ran for 169 yards. Elijah Mitchell ran for 96 and a touchdown, and Deebo Samuel added another 72 and a touchdown of his own. The defense which finished number three in total defense forced two turnovers and held the Cowboys, who are the number one offense in the NFL, to 307 total yards. Nick Bosa left the game early due to a concussion, but the hope is that he can play on Saturday. Not having him will hurt the 49ers.
This game is a rematch from the Week Three game that the Packers won 30-28 in San Francisco. This game will come down to whether the Packers can stop the 49ers run game. If they can do that, they will force the game on Jimmy Garappolo. He had a terrible interception last week that allowed the Cowboys to get back into the game. I think the 49ers will run the ball, but I can see Jimmy G making another lousy play against the Packers. But, they are not the Cowboys, and they will capitalize on those mistakes. Plus, they have Rodgers, and I trust him more than Garappolo.
Game Prediction: Packers 28 49ers 24
Los Angeles Rams (13-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (14-4)
The Rams took it to the Cardinals 34-11 in the first-ever Monday Night Football playoff game. Matthew Stafford threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns in his first career playoff while rushing for another. The Rams defense forced two Kyler Murray interceptions returning one for a pick-six, and sacked him twice, frustrating him all night. The Rams will now get ready for a rematch with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.
The Rams won 34-24 in SoFi Stadium in that Week Four matchup. This game will be in Raymond James Stadium. The Buccaneers beat the Philadelphia Eagles 31-15 to advance. Brady threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns, and Mike Evans had nine receptions for 117 yards and one touchdown. The Bucs defense played well as they forced three turnovers.
This game will come down to whether or not the Buccaneer’s offensive line can hold up against Ram’s defense. Tristan Wirfs and Ryan Jensen were both injured last week. Jensen was able to stay in the game and finish, while Wirfs did not return. Not having them will be a devastating blow against Aaron Donald, Von Miller, Jalen Ramsey, and company. Even with all those injuries, the Bucs still have Brady to pass the ball to Evans and Rob Gronkowski. I hardly ever go against the GOAT; however, I slightly give the Rams the edge here, but this one can go either way.
Game Prediction: Rams 31-28
Buffalo Bills (12-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (12-5)
This game could be the game of the entire playoffs so far. It is another rematch from Week Three, where the Bills won 38-20. This game is also a rematch from last season’s AFC Championship game, where the Chiefs won 38-24. Last week the Bills humiliated the New England Patriots 47-17 in Buffalo, where they scored seven straight touchdowns with Josh Allen throwing for five of them and passing for 308 yards. They will now head to Arrowhead Stadium to face the Chiefs, who beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 42-21. In that game, Patrick Mahomes threw for 404 yards and five touchdowns.
This game figures to be an old-fashioned shootout as both teams finished in the top five in total offense, with the Chiefs at three and the Bills at five. Both quarterbacks, Allen and Mahomes, posted great numbers this season. Allen threw for 4407 yards and 36 touchdowns and added 763 rushing yards and six more touchdowns on the ground, Mahomes threw for 4829 yards and 37 touchdowns.
As much as this game figures to be an offensive showdown, someone will have to play defense. The Bills were the number one ranked defense in the NFL. The Chiefs ranked 27th but did play much better as the season went on. So this game could come down to who has the ball last. I still believe that defense wins championships even though everyone loves offense. Because of that, I think the Bills will stop the Chiefs a time or two and pull out the win. Not many teams have the firepower the Chiefs have and can win a shootout, but the Bills can, and I am going with them here.
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